New Products from Cambridge Audio and Nordost
By Music Direct Brand Ambassador Bes Nievera
July may seem like a slow time for us, what with customers enjoying the fruits of the music-loving pleasures associated with gear and albums amassed this past spring. But new items on the horizon – all with great quality, performance, and you in mind – have arrived at Music Direct!
Cambridge Audio's localism (the UK-based company opened up a U.S. office in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood) has given the revered British brand a leg up on new goodies that make their way to our shores (ok, lakefront, but who's kidding who?) in the form of the all-new AX Series. New to Music Direct, and comprising the AXA35 integrated amp, AXC35 CD player, and AXR85 and AXR100 stereo receivers, AX Series comes geared for listeners seeking components that can be the centerpieces of great playback at a surprisingly reasonable cost. Visiting our listening rooms, Cambridge Audio's Kiel Novatkowski proved once again that a Cambridge amp can easily mate with some of our choicest speakers without sacrificing detail or dynamics. Indeed, AXR100 debuts as a feature-laden powerhouse boasting 100Wpc, an AM/FM tuner with 30-station memory, four analog inputs plus an MM phono input, aptX Bluetooth, sub out, and more. With our contingent of speakers, from Cambridge's own Minx and SX-Series bookshelf speakers to floor-standing models from Revel and ELAC, AXR100 seemed unstoppable while acing our music tests with considerable authority. And, while we're always balancing our analog product love, CD players are never in short supply here, and the AXC35 ranks among the best that we've heard in its price bracket.
Never one to stop innovating in its quest for natural sound, Nordost's U.S. launch of two new products, the Q-Point Resonance Synchronizer and Q-Source Linear Power Supply, marked another first for us: We became the very first retailer to see and hear them in action since their debut at Munich's High End Show this past spring. Nordost's Mike Marko traveled to our Chicago HQ listening rooms and gave us an exciting A/B demo of the remarkable components. Starting with the Q-Points placed on top of a Mark Levinson No. 523 linestage and No. 519 media player, the Q-Points led to a startling transformation. Instrumentation and vocals became closer to live, with a profound impact in soundstaging and reduction in noise floor among the many positives. When complemented by the Q-Source, the improved power management gave each Q-Point an added boost in resolution and reproduction. Chris Issak's verses to his 1995 gem "Wicked Game" were given new life with each spin, and the added bonus of improving power to non-Nordost products, such as an outboard low-voltage hard drive or phono preamp, gave those components an added boost in purity of sound. Bravo, Nordost!